AgustaWestland: 12 million Euros was set aside to lobby with ‘family’

Vicky Nanjappa

New Delhi, Dec 6: James Christian Michel, who is now in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation faced his first round of interrogation.

The CBI has been questioning him about various aspects relating to the AgustaWestland case and during the first round of interrogation, he denied all charges. At first, he was soft in his approach and calmly denied all the allegations.

However he became aggressive, when he was countered with documents relating to a commission amount, which he was unable to explain. Michel told the CBI that he had done no wrong and consultancy contracts were valid in nature. He was however not able to give a suitable reply when asked about what he had done with the rest of the money after the commission was deducted.

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The CBI in its chargesheet had spoken about two agreements that Michel had signed with AgustaWestland. The first one was for 42 million Euros which was later reduced to 30 million Euros.

The second agreement was for a sum of 28 million Euros. The CBI also speaks about some money being used to lobby with the family. CBI officers say that in this context family referred to the Tyagis.

CBI officials tell OneIndia that they would question about the 12 million Euros which was allegedly used to pay the family. He is alleged to have taken a cut in his commission so that the family could be paid off, the probe has revealed.

The CBI says that on May 8 2011, he had entered into an agreement with European middleman Guido Haschke. In this contract it was decided to reduce the amount from 42 million Euros to 30 million. The remaining amount of 12 million Euros may have been used to lobby with the family, the CBI believes.

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On day one of the questioning, the CBI also questioned him about his Dubai based companies that were used to launder money for AgustaWestland. The CBI also questioned him about July 2006 meeting that was held in Cascina Costa.

A CBI statement said, "a meeting was held in Cascina Costa, Italy during July, 2006 where it was decided that Christian Michel James will join Ralph Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa in carrying out scouting and monitoring activities with regard to the acquisition of helicopters in India, keeping in view of his knowledge of Indian military operational mechanism. During the above meeting they had negotiated a comprehensive fees equal to 7% of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and fees of both of them."

He further entered into as many as 12 contracts through his firms- M/s Global Trade and Commerce Ltd. London and M/s Global Services FZE, Dubai, UAE with Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Westland Helicopters UK. This was legitimise the illicit commission on the procurement of VVIP choppers. An amount of Euro 42.27million (Rs. 295.00 Crore approx.) was paid by the Finmeccanica Group to the firms of Michel as kickbacks/bribe without undertaking any work against the receipt of such amount, the CBI also said.

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A CBI official said that he will be confronted with documents recovered during raids by the Swiss authorities and received by the agency through Letters Rogatory. These indicate that Michel had had paid bribes to Indian authorities for securing the contract to supply VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland, the CBI also says.

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